I love old photos, whether they are portraits of my ancestors or historical photos for the period when they lived. And it is important to a complete research that one attempts to understand the environment that surrounds our ancestors' lives if one wants to truly appreciate what they went through.
So where can they be found? Obviously the best resource is our own photo albums and those that our relatives possess. But what about other resources? Many archives, historical societies, libraries and genealogical societies have collections of old photos. And in the past few years there has been a massive movement towards making these historical photo collections available online. Some have search capabilities where you can actually put in a surname or a location, name of a building or historical event and find what is available.
For the state of Michigan, what collections are available for you to browse and/or search online? Here is a list of sites to start with. Please feel free to add in the comments other online resources that you might be aware of in the state.
Please be aware that there may be very strict rules regarding downloading or other use of the images that you may find. Copyright and other legal protections may be in force. Make sure that you read the limitations of use for any image that you find in these collections and wish to download and/or copy. It is your responsibility to adhere to the rules for all of these collections.
Please note that links to these sites may change in the future. The author (me) will not be constantly checking and updating these links, so if you find a broken link, please use your favorite search engine to locate the new link.
(Updated December, 2018; recently added links are in BOLD)
- Arab American National Museum - Dearborn
- Arenac County Album - People
- Arenac County Historical Photo Album
- Battle Creek Historical Images
- Bentley Historical Library - University of Michigan - Photograph Collections
- Benzie Area Historical Society - Benzonia
- Boyne District Library - Boyne City
- Capital Area District Libraries - Lansing N
- Delta County Historic Photos
- Detroit Historical Society - Detroit
- Detroit News Photo Albums
- Early Detroit Images
- Grand Valley State University Digital Collections
- Gratiot County Photo Archives
- Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society - Keego Harbor
- Harbor Springs Area Historical Society Photos
- Jewish Federation Metro Detroit - Bloomfield Hills
- Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan
- Kalamazoo Local History Photo Gallery
- Kettering University Photo Archives
- Leelanau Historical Society Photos
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
- Loutit District Library - Grand Haven
- Mackinac Bridge
- Making of Ann Arbor
- Marquette County History Museum (MI) - Marquette
- Michigan State University Photo Archives
- Michigan's Copper Country in Photographs
- Midland Center for the Arts - Historical Society - Midland
- Monroe County Photographs
- National Archives - Digital Photograph Collections
- Oakland County Photo Collection
- Rochester Historical Museum Photos
- Saline Area Historical Photos
- Sault Ste. Marie Shipping and Locks Collection
- Seeking Michigan
- Shiawassee District Library Historical Photos
- Smithsonian Images
- Southwest Michigan Images
- The Making of Modern Michigan
- Traverse Area Photos
- Tri-Cities Historical Museum Photos
- Troy Historic Village - Troy
- University of Michigan - Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry - Ann Arbor
- University of Michigan Image Collections
- Upper Peninsula Photo Collections
- Vintage Michigan
- Virtual Motor City
- Wayne State University Student Life in Photos
For historic photos from other states as well as articles about photo research, please visit the Photos page.
Good luck and Happy Hunting!